What Happens To A Woman’s Body When She Stops Using Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control is often seen as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. It gave women the ability to control their own bodies and manage reproduction. However, birth control can also have many unpleasant side effects, which are often ignored by advocates of birth control. Though it is a fantastic form of contraception, birth control does not work for everyone.
Normally, a woman’s fertility cycle is guided by shifting levels of hormones, and when estrogen peaks during the cycle, the ovaries release a mature egg that can be fertilized. Hormonal birth control works by altering hormone levels to stop ovulation from happening. The synthetic estrogen in birth control keeps follicle stimulating hormone from developing a mature egg in the first place while the synthetic progestin stops luteinizing hormone from releasing an egg. Different brands of birth control have different levels of hormones, so they have slightly different side effects. After years of taking birth control, most women think that the side effects are normal, so they are often unprepared for the changes that occur when they stop taking hormonal birth control.
According to scientific research, a third of the women who start using hormonal birth control end up gaining weight, due to a combination of hormones, diet, and water retention. The hormones in Depo-Provera are particularly likely to cause weight gain. Therefore, some women have a slight, yet noticeable, weight loss of about two to five pounds. The progesterone and estrogen in some birth control can also make breasts grow, so after a woman stops birth control, she may notice that her bras are a little too big now.
Many women go on birth control to keep their periods from being long and their cramps from being harsh. If you are one of these women, then you might notice an increase in period length and intensity. However, this is not always necessarily the case. Some women start using birth control as teenagers, when their periods were irregular, so by the time they stop using hormonal birth control, their periods may be more manageable.
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Birth control typically lowers testosterone levels, so it prevents breakouts. Therefore, you may notice an increase in acne along the face, chest, and back after you stop using birth control. This might go away, but it does not always happen. For Mary Schmitt, who stopped using birth control at the age of 25 ater ten years of regular usage, the acne was so bad that she decided to go back to hormonal birth control. After years of having skin that was “really clear and nice,” Mary hated breaking out everywhere, and she said that she “felt betrayed by my body.”
Hormonal birth control tends to destroy women’s libido because the testosterone lowering effects of birth control also affect drive in bed. After stopping birth control, many women are shocked to realize that they do have a strong libido, after years of thinking that they were not interested in love-meking. Birth control can also cause vaginal dryness, which makes closeness less pleasurable for many women. The increase in moisture and libido means that many women who stop using birth control start enjoying closeness more.
Hormones can influence a woman’s emotions slightly, so hormonal birth control is often blamed for mood swings. 29-year-old Nadia said that the difference in her moods were huge after she stopped using birth control. Without birth control, Nadia said “I feel so much more even…my reactions are in line with what’s happening, instead of being really exaggerated.”
Not all women are affected by birth control in the same way. For some women, it is a pleasant experience with a useful medication that stops cramps and acne, while other women experience awful mood swings, weight gain, and a lack of libido with birth control. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to use birth control is an extremely personal decision that should depend on your priorities and your body’s unique reaction to hormones.